Many conservative voters object to overt, extreme forms of racism, then have a hard time reconciling how leftists can accuse them of being racist. They don’t feel racist. They get defensive and accuse the liberal in turn of being over-sensitive, or using “racist” as a smear to dismiss without cause anyone they disagree with. Everyone and everything is racist, these days.
I posted an article to Facebook shortly before the 2018 Ontario election about a white supremacist podcaster hoping Doug Ford would win. There was nothing contentious or up for dispute in the article: the white supremacist was a self-declared white supremacist, cheering on Doug Ford because, in his opinion, Ford was the only candidate who would implement white supremacy.
“Ronny Cameron, a white nationalist blogger who has recently published several pro-Ford posts, suggested that when Ford declared ‘we gotta take of our own before we take care of anybody else,’ every single white nationalist said to themselves: ‘we know what you’re sayin’, Dougie.’”
I didn’t sabotage Ford’s character by connecting him to something odious where there was no real connection. I would never do that. Rather, I sabotaged his character by highlighting a very real connection he has to something odious.
Here is how I introduced the article on FB on June 3: “self-declared white supremacists have a crystal clear favourite in this upcoming Ontario election and if your vote aligns with theirs, have a talk with yourself.
Don’t let trumpism rat fuckery come here, for the love of all that’s holy.”
I said nothing inaccurate, or even contentious. An interesting thing happened next though.
A Conservative insider who worked for Doug Ford’s provincial campaign and once wrote speeches for Stephen Harper, commented: “I’m voting for Ford. Are you calling me racist?”
The conservative’s must have a PR handbook for deflecting attention away from conservative racism. Such a handbook could read, “when a liberal draws attention to our racism, respond with attack by implying that the accusation itself is a grave insult—but, and this is key, never address the actual racism they were correct to highlight, it’s bad branding. Make racism about you, not them.”
A motto for conservatives could be, “Are you the victim of racism, ie did someone call you ‘racist’? Vote conservative!” Conservatives love it when liberals accuse them of racism. They feed off anger, it unites them. That people called “racist” are currently drawn to one party, well, what does that say?
Conservatives, I say to you: racism isn’t a feeling. Whether a person feels racist only matters to that person, but racism happens (at least one form…) when non-white communities receive second- or third-class treatment.
There are reasons a person may vote for Ford that have nothing to do with race, but none of them change the fact that a vote for Ford is a vote for a certified racist.
Ford was elected premier only a couple months ago, and here is a partial list of what he has already done so far:
–Ford cancelled a promised $500,000 grant for at-risk youth to receive musical instruments and instruction.
–Ford pledged to increase police presence in at-risk neighbourhoods, bringing back the cancelled TAVIS, against the wishes of community leaders and experts
–Ford wants to bring back “carding,” a practice the Liberals cancelled because it stigmatizes and hassles racialized people and has absolutely no proven benefit in fighting crime. (Police have been asked repeatedly to provide proof carding helps them fight crime, and have never provided any.) It’s also unclear how the personal data on private and innocent citizens, dubiously acquired by police, is stored and used.
–After a shooting near Jane and Finch, Ford was pictured with three local residents and the anti-racism minister, Michael Tibollo, who wore a bullet proof vest and described the area as, essentially, a war zone. (In contrast, after the Danforth mass shooting local politicians were (correctly!) destigmatizing the Danforth, promoting it as safe family-oriented place, and encouraging Toronto residents to visit, mourn and patronize businesses. While a police spokesperson said Tibollo’s bulletproof vest was given “to err on the side of caution”…it is impossible to imagine this photo op happening in a white neighbourhood. Note, Ford didn’t wear a bullet proof vest.)
If you examine the quotes and gestures in isolation and one at a time it may appear like simple nitpicking from oversensitive libtards keen for another hammer to attack Conservatives with. But if you connect the words and images with where and how Conservatives are choosing to spend money, a picture emerges. Is it really a coincidence that Ford and his people say allegedly racist things, then do in fact de-fund these communities and send in more weaponized police with pre-emptive permission to hassle residents? It’s only been two months.
If Ford and Tibollo and other Conservative politicians merely said but did not do racist things, it’d be less of an actual problem. But make no mistake, the words are followed up with action. People said trump was just all talk, that his racism was for ratings. No, no, no. The Conservatives will harm at-risk communities in real and tangible ways. Lives will be damaged. People may even die in ways that don’t immediately appear directly linked to Ford’s cuts and policy, but are.
Not to be too dramatic, but it’s true. The point isn’t that Doug Ford (or other Conservatives labeled “racist”) is a cartoon embodiment of a racist: I doubt he is restraining an urge to wear KKK sheets or lynch minorities. Racism can be very damaging when it’s more subtle. It often takes the form of white men in suits making policies which favour white communities at the expense of non-white communities. It’s economics. Whether the cancelled investment in Jane/Finch was driven by active hate or “taking care of our own before we take care of anyone else,” it’s racist. It is a distinction without a difference.
I know people who grew up on Talib, Tribe and De La, who today oppose their politics. Conscious hip hoppers were always social justice warriors. The Right Wing Culture War machine would have you believe that SJWs are “virtue signaling” about minorities to be retweeted, or sticking up for women’s rights merely as a tactic to fuck them. They disparage the alleged motive, and do not address the argument itself. Trump and his people like to paint critics as just humourless PC babies…sure, like Eminem and Borat.
I’m sure there are many good and conscientious wealthy Conservative voters who would be appalled if they saw what their vote contributed to up close. But they won’t see this. They may see lower taxes, but never what paid for the reduction, so they’ll never really come to understand the harm Conservatives inflict.
They don’t live in these communities, and have no contact with the people there whatsoever. Like me, they don’t go to Jane and Finch. I “taught” at Emery for one brief and disastrous month. But I grew up in Forest Hill. The closest people there get to Jane/Finch is Oakdale Country Club. To get a sense of how sheltered conservative thinking can be, consider that Federal Conservatives are pitching the idea that the people in crisis in the “Refugee Crisis” are the people safe in their homes inside Canada, not the stateless and traumatized refugees fleeing war and death. I doubt Conservatives actively want to harm non-white communities, they’re just indifferent to them, and this leads to harm. In any case, malice in the motive isn’t required for harm to occur.
In 2010 Rob Ford cancelled the planned LRT that was going to finally connect Jane and Finch with the rest of the city via rapid transit. Doug will continue making cuts, there and elsewhere. I didn’t feel racist when I voted for Rob Ford, but eight years later I still wrestle with the fact that before I was politically formed, I voted for an international disgrace in a mere municipal election.
I felt and feel extremely stupid and ashamed of this. There’s more I can say, but my feelings then and even now are irrelevant. I didn’t feel racist, but I voted for one. Today, my conservative friends, your feelings do not matter. What happens in the world does.
I’d like to describe briefly how and why I have come to believe what I do, because the general public probably has a Right Wing Media conception of “social justice warrior,” so people may read things I wrote above through that lens.
Like all smart-ass young writers I was enthusiastic to reject all teams and labels, etc. I still do, but with less of a hard edge, and some laughter. People will call me a leftist, and my views tend to fall that way, but I’m not associated with any organization, I don’t get paid to express certain views, I don’t represent any group—it’s just how I feel is all, and underlying it is:
The god of organized religion doesn’t exist; we’re all going to die one day and there’s no purpose to any of this shit apart from what we make of it; race is a social construct that is in one sense completely arbitrary and made up, but try saying race doesn’t exist, or that oblivious phrase “I don’t see race,” to the descendants of slaves.
The individual’s ability to love people and things and produce fascinating, sublime, beautiful works of art is what’s truly worth the reverence religion receives.
I hear things from conservatives like, “I support equality of opportunity, not equality of outcome,” which is a naïve but surface-smart sounding way of saying, effectively, “It’s OK if generations suffer harmful yet predictable outcomes in life based on their race, gender and class, so long as these social evils are arrived at naturally, not by state coercion.”
You’ll notice, conservatives often criticize “SJWs” for allegedly having some filthy ulterior motive, but they never consider the possibility that, actually, things like fiscal conservatism, often described in lofty universal philosophical terms, nearly always results in whatever benefits that person’s self interest the most.
The theorists who reduce humans to animals are half right—we are animals, obvs, but they often take it one step further, saying we ought to continue our existence in the jungle conditions of other animals. No! The whole point of civilization is to use our intelligence to impose and shape order on our natural impulses for the betterment of society. The notion that it’s wrong to correct for our inherent flaws, such as our innate tendency to break into tribes and then war against neighbouring tribes, opposes the very idea of civilization influencing our civilization.
“Equality of opportunity” is a super important thing to have enshrined in law, and can’t be taken for granted. We need it, it must be celebrated. But we know that in practice things like generational wealth, gender and race undermines the living shit out of “equality of opportunity.” The people dealt the best hand say, “sorry, such are the cards!” And the people dealt the bad hand say, “this isn’t a fucking game, this is life.”
I understand that the ancient Greeks distinguished between two kinds of knowledge. First is understanding a concept abstractly, then there’s first-hand knowledge from experience. You know someone must feel extremely sad when somebody they love dies, but you don’t know the feeling until your loved one is dead. There’s knowing and there’s knowing.
There’s a kind of argument I see a lot of online that’s so pedantic and theoretical and unconcerned in how life actually is–it’s based on this first kind of knowledge only. I’ll never know what it’s like to grow up poor, black, female, Native. I just won’t. No social discourse can be complete without this second kind of knowledge. Various people must give input, or life is only described in two dimensions, not three, and the world is three dimensional.
It’s in this sense that I’ve learned a lot from listening to people from a wide range of backgrounds, from reading and traveling, but really from listening to people. You don’t know what you don’t know. I’ve been humbled, I‘m more convinced I don’t know a fucking thing on this earth, that the more confident someone sounds the more likely they’re faking it, they’re simply wrong or paid to lie.
So, anyway, to my conservative friends: Zuckerberg and co benefit from people freaking out. The internet is murder. Unwind, unplug. Give it all a think. Listen to different kinds of people. I’m the same pretty chilled dude I always was, but I will definitely write some more angry shit on my facebook about trump, ford or whatever right wing shitlord you voted for. They’re disgusting, and I reserve that right. If you disagree with something I write, feel free to respond in the comment section. I’ll be nice! It’s good to have a group airing. Or DM me. This will avoid that performative urge to appear better informed or too pithy that sometimes comes when private chats are conducted in public. You won’t be piled on or dragged by my ruthless FB friends, either.